leadership and strategy

How we can all unite under a common cause

Over our lifetime, we have experienced many occasions that have had a profound impact on life going forward. It sometimes takes a major event to see more clearly the things we can accomplish together as opposed to against one another. The ability to find a rallying point which unites individuals to overcome difficult times in an effort to return to normalcy, however that may look like in the future.

So too, is the challenge that lies ahead for our industry on how we emerge from circumstances never before seen. You have started to see more and more experts come out in all lines of business as to how the future will be shaped. Be careful to not believe everything that you hear and see.

Many years ago growing up in rural Nebraska, we had a next-door neighbor who was an older gentleman that lived alone. As far as I knew, he had no family and lived a very reclusive life with little of life’s extra necessities that many took for granted. Without exception, when Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter rolled around, my dad would make sure that there was always an extra plate of food that was delivered to Slim by me or one of my brothers. The plate was always sent back clean and was very much appreciated. More on that later.

Learning from experiences such as the Great Recession and 9/11, how will this compare to your strategy then? Will your guests come rushing back through the door? Probably not, since Macau has reopened up in Asia business is still down over 80%. How you invite them back and what you do to make them feel appreciated and understood will help to begin that process.

Here are three lessons that I have learned from these previous experiences that were helpful then and very well could be of use now, coming out of this interruption.

Utilize Your Greatest Resources

By greatest resources, I am referring to your team members. Communicate to them and through them the strategy that the property is implementing. Are there changes in the food handling process as to how food is prepared or served and why? What will be the cleaning process for the casino, the hotel, restrooms, machines, cards dice, chips, and other equipment?

Will there be changes to the casino floor layout that will address social distancing? Posting these changes, as well as communicating through team members, allows the public to know that you have recognized these issues and are working to maximize their impact on public safety. How will previous rewards and offers be recognized? Will you adjust tier level status qualifications for the upcoming year? Equip your team members with the answers to all these questions.

Fixed Costs

The ability to reopen and begin generating revenue again is a start, but more than likely it will not be at the same level as it was before. The fixed costs, however, probably will be. How you reduce them is just as important as generating new revenue. Adjusting schedules to the demand of business reduces unnecessary labor costs. You may be able to adjust hours of availability in certain venues to reduce costs. Dining options may not need to open seven days a week or at normal hours on a daily basis. Your procurement process may be more significant than ever. Don’t be afraid to shop around.

Reevaluate your marketing costs. How does your marketing differ from before your closure?
Can you do more direct marketing through email and social media at reduced costs? Most importantly, is it effective? If you have fluff pieces out there, can they be eliminated? Explore the definition of your business interruption insurance. You need to take the initiative to pursue the legal avenues as the pandemic applies to benefits for your loss of revenue.

Value

Of the most significant thing that you do to entice people back to the property, make it of value. Do not try to lure them back with meaningless offers or promos. Nobody cares about 10% off in the gift shop coupons. While you are at it, maybe you could ease up on the resort fees and other perks that have seemed to have disappeared. This may not necessarily be in the form of free play or other offers but in the form of sincere gratitude.

For those essential workers that have been put in precarious circumstances for the past months, do something for them. I know many casinos have turned on the Blue Lights and made hearts in the hotel windows or donated food to many organizations and that is all wonderful and encouraging. But when the time is right, invite them in for some time of special recognition, whether that is health professionals, law enforcement, grocery store personnel, mail carriers, anyone that fits into the category, for a meal that includes their spouses.

Over the Easter weekend, many families adjusted to celebrations of family meals and holidays to help flatten the Covid-19 Virus. Old traditions were renewed, such as looking out for your neighbor. I received a text from one of my neighbors letting me know that she was planning on preparing a big meal for her family and if it would be alright for her children to drop off a plate of goodies for me on Sunday if I was going to be home alone.

Hard to believe that 50 years later it had come full circle. That may be as significant as any advice I can give you on how to prepare for reopening. Treat your guests and your workers as neighbors and friends. In the long run, that will bring us back to normalcy however long it may take. By the way, the food was wonderful but the thought was even better.

Be careful out there everyone and be kind to one another.

Dan Stromer

Dan Stromer